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The joy of writing July 6, 2006

Posted by jeanne in Author's Note, construction news, Creative Writing.
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So I sat up all night last night pounding out the first chapter. Whoopee. it’s hard to put into words the intense joy I feel when I write. I feel intense joy when I paint, and intense joy when I make love, and intense joy when I’m making food, but these seem lesser joys. The intense joy of writing is an involvement of brain, spirit and hands that you only get in competition masturbation. Iit’s almost as guilty a pleasure, too.

I couldn’t sleep. Again. It’s summer in Atlanta, and without serious air motion about my bed, I would melt into the sheets. Scratch that; I don’t use sheets in the summer. I use a ceiling fan, a window fan, and washcloth in a bowl of cool water. Whenever I wake up in a sweat, I douse myself in cold water, and the fan first tickles my little hairs while they dry, and then my body stops stinging with the heat and my mind drifts back down to sleep.

So I got up last night. Most nights when I get up, I sit here in front of the computer and think. Or do research. Or do emails. Or look up a news site. And lately, being occupied with the plot structure almost exclusively, I’ve been getting bored with being up all night. I mean, there are only so many ways to chart out a story. And while you can find endless amusement in telling the same story over and over again with only minor tweaks, I find it boring as hell once I know what I’m going to do with the story.

So I sat there in front of the computer at 2 a.m. and a slow excitement filled me. I’d gone thru all the required hoops at least once, and I wouldn’t be wasting my time if I gave a stab at the opening scenes.

So I did, and dawn crept up on me as I drifted thru the events of the first chapter. I had started with these, events, several months ago when I first started thinking about writing another novel. And as I developed the action further along in the story, I kept checking back to see if the opening was still what I wanted.

I remember casting about for the opening to my first unpublished novel, Love Has Nothing To Do With It. I wrote one opening after another, but each time ended up circling, or marching in the wrong direction. When I wrote Splat, I waited on the opening, until it occurred to me. Controlled inspiration.

I wonder what will show thru my work this time. Like, am I a writer who always has the same characters and always tell the same story? Or is there stuff in there I don’t know anything about yet? Do I have a hidden agenda?

To put it another way, I didn’t pick the topic of Splat, or the story line. They occurred to me. Love Has Nothing was merely disguised life (that’s a first novel for you). Construction News only looks like real life, but really that’s just the starting point.

It all came up as a result of something I do in my head all the time, which is to make descriptions and labels and judgments about the things around me. I name the trees as I pass them. I characterize strangers in the street. I make up images of lives as I go thru my day.

I’ve simply decied to write a bunch of them down and weave them into a worst case scenario to get out of. But I guarantee you I’ll find issues of vital importance to my current way of thinking before I’m thru writing the first section.

Issues I didn’t know I was going to be working with. And thru research and immersion and voicing a character’s inner thoughts and fears, I’m going to be doing in-depth psychology using these issues to get to the bottom of what really affects my otherwise calm demeanor. And it’s going to be hell, for me. Possibly you’ll find them funny; it’s easier to take the humiliation that way.

For example, all that stuff about racism in Splat was mostly unintended. It pushed a button, and I kept discovering my character fuming over issues of fairness. However, in dumping it into the pages of a novel, I was able to solve a few issues I happened to have with it, and am a happier person. I know I ruined some people’s days, tho, and I’m heartily sorry, but they’won’t be stopping by this blog to find out, so sorry is useless.

Anyway, I’ve written the first chapter, the first draft of the first chapter, and I’ll be putting it up here in just a few whiles, after I check the spelling and things like that.

And we’re off.

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